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Putting Our Stamp on TTR ~ Part I

One of the benefits for us of buying an HH55 catamaran is the opportunity to customize the boat to our liking.  No doubt that Morrelli and Melvin designed an incredible boat and HH is doing a fabulous job of fabricating that boat.  But we still have been able to add our own little stamp to the boat we will receive in a few months.

Beginning on the outside and forward at the bow, here are just a few items we have changed from “the norm” on previous HH55s.

Trampoline – The standard trampoline supplied by HYM is a 1 1/4 inch knotless dyneema material that is attached with individual lashings to the many, many attachment points on the hull. The 1 1/4 inch reference relates to the size of the hole between the strands of dyneema line. This dyneema trampoline is an excellent, lightweight choice for offshore and racing, the getting there part of sailing; however, for both the getting there and the being there part of sailing we chose an alternative. We wanted a trampoline comfortable for bare feet, dog paws, knees during yoga and relaxing at anchor.  Simply put, we wanted  to make the trampoline serve as both a useful and comfortable outdoor space.  Sunrise Yacht Products to the rescue! Richard worked beyond his duty to properly size and manufacture an offshore trampoline that would have all the benefits of dyneema with a host of other advantages. We settled on the Sunrise Offshore Polyester Open Net with 3/8″ net openings and attachment grommets to match each of the hull attachment points. We are super excited to play and work on this trampoline. By moving to this trampoline we did add 22 pounds to the overall weight of TTR.

 

Left represents the weave we chose for TTR. Right is a 1″ dyneema open weave.

Generator – Hudson Yacht has been installing a 12KW Fisher-Panda generator on the previous HH55’s and this was simply a deal breaker for Frank, my favorite mechanic. We have had different gensets on previous boats; however, the Northern Lights 9KW genset on Let It Be far surpassed any generator we have owned. The NL was quiet, easy to service, incredibly dependable, and NEVER failed to start. When we sold Let It Be, the genset had over 8,000 hours, ran beautifully, and the only part we had replaced was one alternator. Frank feels that the key to the NL genset success is that it has No, None, zero green circuit boards, only relays, and it runs at 1800 RPMs not the 3200-3600 RPMs seen with the Fisher-Panda. The NL genset is about 40 pounds heavier than the FP which makes zero difference to us. Our boat, for better or worse, will be electrically demanding and we accept the need for a generator; however, we absolutely wanted a machine on which we can depend.

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A brand new Northern Lights Generator for TTR.

Bow Thruster – HH offers a bow thruster located in the starboard forepeak with a dropdown lower unit when the thruster is in use. All 3 of the previous HH55s have opted for the thruster; however, we chose to delete the thruster from TTR. Having the experience of Let It Be with no bow thruster and the fact that we expect to spend very little time coming to and from marina docks; we feel very comfortable with no bow thruster. The financial savings was big and eliminating the thruster saved us over 440 pounds!! However, we did build a monolithic patch in the forward hull allowing for easy installation of a bow thruster if desired in the future.

450 mm Extended longeron (bowsprit) – Since our sailing plans and reason for buying Ticket To Ride include a tropical circumnavigation, we realize that much of our sailing time will be spent with the wind aft of the beam. On Let It Be some of our favorite sailing days had the wind TWA at 130-170; however, we also found that to be a challenging wind direction for sail configuration. Alas, with Gino Morelli’s advice and working with our sailmaker, Matt Bridges, from Doyle NZ, we decided to extend the longeron / bowsprit by 450 mm and fly a large furled reacher from the very end of the bowsprit. This bring the headsail further forward into cleaner wind, less blanketed by the mainsail.

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Longeron installed on TTR.

Cableless Reacher – The mainsail, genoa, and self tacking staysail on Ticket to Ride will be supplied by Doyle NZ (our choice) and will be very similar in size and cut to the previous HH55s.  The reacher/Code sail is where we have changed course from the previous HH55s. Again, since tropical circumnavigation is our plan we talked at length with anyone knowledgable about appropriate sail configurations for such plans. Matt Bridges from Doyle NZ is an excellent listener and his first proposal included a cableless reacher. “What is that animal?,” we asked. In brief, a cableless reacher eliminates the very thick torque rope around which a removable, furled headsail is normally wound when furled. Instead of the 3/4 inch torque rope tensioned to sometimes over 5 tons, the cableless reacher has additional spectra and carbon fibers built into the luff of the sail and is tensioned to about 1/8 of the torque rope specs. The trade off with a cableless reacher is that it will not go upwind as well as a torque rope and will never be a Code 0 or an A1. Rather the cut is more A2 or A3. WOW, that’s exactly what we want!

Cableless reacher #2

Cableless reacher production drawing from Doyle Sails.

Considering all the above features of the cableless reacher, we also did not order a gennaker at this time. We feel the cableless reacher will be much easier for us to handle alone and it provides 80% of the benefit of a gennaker. Eliminating the gennaker is a huge dollar, weight and storage savings.

Cableless reacher #1

Another view of the reacher drawing.

Spade Anchor and galvanized chain – Hudson Yacht’s standard spec for anchor and chain is a Stainless Lewmar Delta anchor and stainless chain manufactured in China. I don’t know about you, but, we say thank you to our anchor every morning when we wake up to find ourselves in the same spot as when we went to bed. Let It Be was delivered with a Lewmar Delta Anchor which worked fine in ideal conditions. Sailors know that ideal conditions are seldom found! After 3 weeks on Let It Be, much anchor research, and a boat show special, we chose to give Let It Be a new Spade Anchor and we never looked back. Grass, mud, sand, wind, or any combination of the above and we were always set. So why would we want to return to the past with Ticket To Ride? TTR will be sporting a beautiful stainless 1 piece Spade anchor. Concerning anchor chain, Practical Sailor says it best, “Steer Clear of Stainless-steel Mooring Chain.” Stainless chain, in addition to being inherently weaker, suffers from crevice corrosion leading to failure with no warning. We have spec’d 10 mm galvanized Acco chain for Ticket To Ride.

Stainless-Spade

Hopefully our anchor will never land in such a shallow spot!

Watermakers – We really did not vary too far from the HYM standard Spectra watermaker. What we did change is its location. Frank and I had a love/hate relationship with the huge storage capacity below the berths on Let It Be. On the love side it allowed us to carry ample spares, tools, and toys. On the hate side it seemed like every time we needed something different it was stored below a bed requiring the removal of bedsheets, mattresses, mattress support boards followed by digging.  The watermakers on HH5501 and HH5502 were installed below the master berth…. a much less than ideal location in our opinion!  Considering filter replacement, checking for leaks and the noise generated while making water, my maintenance specialist began an earnest search for a different location. After many emails, evaluation of drawings, and support questions to Spectra, the decision was made to put the Spectra 24v Newport 700 in a purpose built compartment in the port side forepeak. The HH crew is confident this will be an excellent long term home for the watermaker due to access for service, weight distribution and water spill cleanup. Only time will tell for this untested location.

It’s very fun to share the construction of a new boat with our friends and readers. The items above really only scratch the surface of the changes we have made to TTR to meet our needs. In a future blog post(s), we will share other custom changes to solar, electronics, seating, general arrangement, and so on.

In just a few days we are heading to China for the ‘soft launch’ of TTR and we look forward to seeing her in person! During soft launch, Ticket to Ride is placed in a pond so most of her systems can be tested. Soft launch allows HH to review all of the components of boat systems and it will give us our first chance to begin learning about the systems on TTR that will be new to us. (And I get to see how the interior colors I chose actually work together. Fingers crossed!)

Many, many thanks go to the HH crew, Gino Morelli and Mark Womble (Morelli and Melvin),  Matt Bridges (Doyle NZ), Paul Hakes, and at the top of the list is Let It Be. She was much more to us than a platform for learning but WOW we did learn a lot from Let It Be.

As always, thank you for stopping by our blog. We love hearing from you, so feel free to add your comments. And if you want to hear from us more often, check out our Facebook page.

 

Comparing Life on Land to Life Afloat ~ Seven Weeks into Our Temporary Land Life.

So I thought others might be interested in our comparison of RV Life to Sailing Life.  BUT I must first acknowledge that we are only a few weeks into this RV adventure and we are FAR from experts. I hope we will improve as time passes and our experience increases.

CROWDS:  Perhaps the most glaring difference between RV Life and Sailboat Life for us is the sheer number of people “doing it.” We are amazed that there are so. many. people. on the road! And consequently in the camp sites!!

Kemah-1

Our very first RV “Park” was a rude awakening!

RESERVATIONS/SPACE:  Having lived on our sailboat for three years, we are accustomed to choosing a place to visit, checking the available anchorages on a chart and heading in that direction. Once we arrive, there may be other boats in the anchorage but we always found plenty of room to drop an anchor.

WHEN RVing ~ DO NOT ARRIVE WITHOUT A RESERVATION. Period!!!

We have learned, these last few weeks, that RV sites are in great demand and you must have a reservation or take your chances of not finding a spot to stop. So far we have not had to resort to a Walmart parking lot, but that might still happen.

Bonaire

We will never experience this much space when our RV is parked.

RULES:  I am not certain if my travels outside the U.S. have caused me to become aware of how many rules there are in the U.S. OR if there are just a TON of rules in every RV Park.

Regardless of which is true, we are amazed at just how strict the rules are in RV campgrounds and how zealously they are enforced.

~Keep you dog on a leash at all times (Yes, even if she is well trained and lying at your feet by the picnic table.)

~Only one vehicle per campsite. (Yes, even if  you are just unloading a bike that your son brought with him and will be stored on the RV.)

~Changing your reservation means a default of your downpayment. (Yes, even if you cancel weeks in advance).

Eccetera, eccetera, eccetera!!!

Kemah

There were at least five more rule signs along this short driveway.

WEATHER:   RVing takes less awareness of weather and conditions than sailing requires.  While sailing, we were always aware of the sea state, incoming storms, what the wind and weather forecast were at our destination and along the way to our destination.

When we pack up our RV and prepare to drive, we just point and drive and allow the weather conditions to bring what they may.  So far we have been very fortunate that the weather as we drive has been mostly dry with little rain.  But still, we aren’t nearly as aware of upcoming weather as we were while living on a sailboat.

Kemah-2

One of the few days we experienced rain as we drove.

CONVERSE CONCERNS:   RV and Cruising have opposite concerns.  For many sailors, top priority is having enough fresh water, food and energy on the sailboat and management of waste is relatively easy.  While RVing we have ample access to water, electricity and food but limited ability to evacuate waste and gray water!

Food is plentiful in the US grocery stores and buying more or whatever you desire is never an issue.  In our sailing travels, we could always find food, but we might not be familiar with the foods we found or how to cook the food we bought.

AUTOPILOT:   The greatest convenience that we miss from our sailing life is autopilot.  We loved setting the sails and course and allowing Jude (the name we gave our autopilot) to take the helm (wheel). With Jude on the helm, we could relax, walk around the boat, read, cook, etc and simply make periodic checks to insure that Jude was on course, the sails were still well set and there weren’t any ships or objects in our way.

Now that we are on land, the RV requires full time attention from one of us as we are driving from one destination to another.

We really miss autopilot!! (Maybe I will embrace driverless cars after all.)

DAILY EXPENSES:    The initial cost of buying a sailboat is much greater than buying an RV, especially if you buy a new boat compared to a new RV. Of course, there is a big range of initial costs available for both a sailboat and an RV depending on size, quality, etc.

However, we have found that the daily expenses of living in the U.S. and traveling from one RV campsite to the next is much higher than we experienced while sailing. On our sailboat, we refueled perhaps once every six to eight weeks if we ran our generator often. Diesel at a boat dock is more expensive than on land, but we usually spent about $250 when we refueled s/v Let It Be.

Driving our RV, we try to make our location changes a maximum of about 300 miles and we will spend about $115 on diesel each day that we travel that distance.  If we had a smaller RV and truck we could reduce this figure, but we chose this RV so we could easily carry our bikes and other toys and so our kids could comfortably visit us.

When we dropped anchor on our sailboat, we did not incur any fees.  If we picked up a mooring ball, the fees varied by location with the least expensive being $0. per day and the most expensive $35. per day. Ninety percent of our time on LIB we spent at anchor and incurred no fees for our location.

RV campsites range in price as well. We prefer to have full hookups so we have fresh water and can dispose of waste and gray water. We have found campsites run anywhere from $45 to $110 per night with full hookups.

We have joined a few ‘clubs’ to reduce our RV park fees, but many sites disallow discounts during peak season, which is now. Also, we might find campsites are less expensive during the off season.  Time will tell.

BTW, our RV is not equipped to survive ‘off the grid,’ so long stays without electrical support is unrealistic at this time. IF we decide to RV long term, we would consider fitting our RV with solar power and additional batteries to give us the opportunity to find unsupported campsites.

After only a few weeks on the road, these are our thoughts when we compare RV Life and Cruising on a sailboat. Frank and I enjoyed the space and flexibility we found while sailing. As we await the arrival of our next boat, we are going through an adjustment period as we learn to live with very close neighbors and arrange our locations far in advance as required in an RV.

Kemah-3

The magnitude is amazing.

However, we have truly enjoyed having the opportunity to travel the US with our own stuff in tow and stay with friends along the way.

We have enjoyed being in our “home” country and being completely at ease with the nuances that come with being in your homeland.

Easy communication because we are native speakers is a nice change too.

Kemah-4

Dramatic and majestic.

Finally, the beauty and breadth of the United States is truly a wonder and we are blessed and happy to have this chance to visit a small portion of our country. As we adjust our thought processes, plan our travels further forward and move into a slightly less busy RV season, I think we will enjoy RV Life more.

~ HH 55 Catamaran Update ~

The news from HH concerning the progress of our catamaran has been a little quiet lately, but I’m pretty sure that is because they are currently sea trialling HH55-04, s/v Utopia.

Utopia

s/v Utopia during sea trials in China. (Photo credit HH Catamarans)

This picture of Utopia shows some of the choices her owners made that differ from our choices.  Obviously, one difference is that Utopia has been painted white and our boat will be blue.  Utopia has been outfitted with North Sails but we have chosen to have our sails made by Doyle Sails.  Also, Utopia, has a super sleek, removable bimini over her aft helm stations.  The owners wanted light weight, minimalistic biminis that they can remove if they are racing. We have chosen to have more substantial binimis and alter the helm seat itself to make it more comfortable for long passages.

Sea trials will take place over a three week period, then s/v Utopia will be hauled, packaged and shipped to the U.S.

Seeing Utopia on the water makes us very anxious to take delivery of our new catamaran!

Thank you for visiting our blog. Feel free to comment or ask questions. We love hearing your thoughts.

 

 

South Water and Tobacco Cayes with our Quickest Visitors Ever.

Although we had hoped to have a few visitors this season, the changes in our location and the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, plus the possible sale of LIB, caused our plans to change and discouraged visitors.

So we were very happy that our Sail to the Sun friends, Susan and Kevin, managed to adjust their plans and come sail with us in Belize. They were only able to stay for a few days, but the wind was cooperative and we had an excellent time.

Some visitors are all about the land, others enjoy the water and some are focused on the sailing aspect.  As avid and experienced sailors, Susan and Kevin were very happy the winds cooperated and we could explore under sail.  It is especially nice to have guests on board who understand sailing and all its’ capriciousness because they know we are limited by weather, wind and seas.

South Water Caye-11

Kevin and Susan are right at home at the helm of LIB.

Fortunately those three aspects came together and allowed us to sail to South Water Caye the first full day Susan and Kevin were with us.

Frank and I had “pre-visited” South Water Caye and Tobacco Caye and we were really happy to return to them and explore with Susan and Kevin.

South Water is about 12 acres in size and has pretty cottages and bars on white sand.  It also boasts an IZE (International Zoological Exploration) location on the island. IZE is best described as educational travel in the rainforest or reefs of Belize. Open to high school and university students or families interested in learning about Belize, the setting is absolutely beautiful and the marine life around South Water Caye unique.  We spoke with a group of high school students from Georgia who were having an incredible experience with IZE.

South Water Caye-1

Steps leading to the open air dining area of IZE.

 Kids who come to spend a week or two here have to suffer through these harsh accommodations! And in between snorkeling and diving excursions, the kids are stuck finding ways to entertain themselves…

South Water Caye-2

Resting after a grueling day?

So although I am poking fun, this really does seem like a very cool experience that could help raise awareness and knowledge in younger generations.  Boston University even has a facility for lab work and study.

South Water Caye

Yes, Boston University!

Strolling along SW Caye doesn’t take very long, but it is very pretty.

South Water Caye-5Shaded cabins, hammocks and the sound of the sea are very restful.

Even Captain enjoyed the swings at the bar.

South Water Caye-3Cappy met up with her friend Hurley again.

 

Conch shells lined the “streets” and faith is evident where the locals live.

After strolling around South Water Caye, we headed back to LIB to enjoy a relaxed afternoon and dinner on board.

South Water Caye-7Prosecco buddies.

The following day we took advantage of the shallow area on the southern end of South Water Caye where we sat in the azure water and watched Captain alternate between rolling in sand and swimming in the water.  We took turns snorkeling and sitting in the shallow water and just idling away some time in a beautiful place.

After water time, we hoisted the sails and sailed to Tobacco Caye.  It was an easy day and a great opportunity to just relax and enjoy having the boat pushed along by the wind.

South Water Caye-8So many places to relax on LIB.

Until, Cappy sounded the alert…. dolphins had come to play at our bow!

No great pics this time, unfortunately.

South Water Caye seems huge compared to Tobacco Caye which is only 200 feet by 400 feet and all of it is in use!

Tobacco Caye-8Tobacco is tiny but mighty nice!

Do not let the fact that this island is crowded discourage you from visiting! We had a great time walking around and seeing how well the space is used.  Here are some photos:

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Picturesque bungalows at the edge of Tobacco Caye.

Tobacco Caye-4An artist captured sea life.

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Not every building is in good shape but it adds character.

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Such a pretty setting and I love the matching boat and house!

Apparently seeing the wonders of the sea doesn’t get old even when you live on an island.  The local children attend school on another island so they are only home on Tobacco for the weekends.  I would find it hard to have my young children away all week long. (I find it hard to be away from my grown children!)

Tobacco Caye-5  I wonder what they see?

They were watching giant stingrays!

tobacco-1$20 for a delicious dinner at Reef’s End.

The first time Frank and I visited Tobacco Caye, we had dinner at Reef’s End Lodge. It is an upstairs, small, open air spot with one dinner seating at 6 pm.  I was surprised to learn that there was no menu ~ dinner was whatever was available that evening. At first I was hesitant about the lack of choice, but it was actually really nice to sit back, enjoy the sunset and not even concern myself with what to order.

Tobacco Caye-7Lots of activity near Reef’s End.

When Susan and Kevin were with us, Reef’s End was pretty busy and we all preferred to hang out in the water and cook on LIB instead of dinghying to a restaurant.  After walking around Tobacco Caye, we headed back to LIB for more water time.  We had snorkeled the day before at South Water, so we decided it was time to pull out the paddle boards.  Kevin and Susan have not done much SUPing, so they took the dinghy up toward the reef and anchored in the shallow area while Frank and I paddled up to them. Once we were close to the dinghy, Susan and Kevin hopped on the SUPs and paddled around the clear shallows while Frank and I swam about with Captain.

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Lounging at anchor off of Tobacco Caye.

Of course all that exercise earned us nice warm showers and sundowners on the top deck before preparing dinner.

Unfortunately, Susan and Kevin had to fly back to the States rather quickly so we didn’t have time to explore any other islands.  But happily the wind was our friend again and we had a very nice trip back to Placencia.

Our last day in Placencia, Frank and Kevin hung out on LIB while Susan and I explored the sidewalk shops I mentioned in this blog.  Susan bought a really beautiful wooden cutting board that I think will be put to use on s/v Radiance very soon.

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Fresh tamales wrapped in jungle leaves.

While walking Captain in Placencia, Frank came across someone selling tamales.  The tamales were wrapped in leaves that our Monkey River guide, Percy, had mentioned were used in cooking. So Frank bought the tamales and we shared them with Kevin and Susan….  you have to have at least one authentic meal when in a different country, right?  Anyway, it was neat to see the local leaf used for cooking and the tamales were a nice change.  The outer layer of the tamale was thicker than we were accustomed to in Texas, but I rarely complain when I don’t have to do the cooking. 😉

We were sorry to say goodbye to Susan and Kevin, but we hope to catch up with them at the Annapolis Boat Show in October.  Or perhaps they will join us somewhere along the road in Temporary Digs.

In closing, I thought I ought to include at least one sunset so you can enjoy the beauty we shared at sundown on LIB.

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Sunset on our first visit to Tobacco Caye, Belize.

~ HH55 Catamaran Update ~

In May, Frank traveled to China to take a look at our HH55 catamaran which is under construction in Xiaman.  The really good news about Frank’s visit is that everything looks great on our boat.  Similar to building a custom home, there are many unique details to every build project and sometimes communication which appears clear just misses the mark.

Happily, Frank found that our communication with HH has progressed very well and the special requests we have made look like they are being handled accurately.  However, Frank was disappointed to learn that our HH55 is behind schedule and will be delayed an additional month.  Based on what he learned while in China, we hope our new boat will be delivered to California by mid-December at the latest.

One specification we have requested on our catamaran is a different counter surface for the galley.  I guess I was spoiled by the granite we had in our home and I hoped to find a material we could use in our HH that would work well but was of a reasonable weight. Gino Morrelli suggested a product called Kerlite and we forged ahead with this tile product.  It has not yet been installed on our HH55-03, but Frank had a chance to see our selection while at the HH site.

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Kerlite ceramic tile for our galley counters.

I wanted to find a product that doesn’t scratch as easily as the surface we had on LIB and that won’t be marred if someone sets a hot pot on it. I am hopeful that Kerlite will accomplish both aims.  What do you think? Do you like the look? Do you think poured ceramic will accomplish our goal?

Thank you so much for stopping by to read our blog. We would love to hear your comments.  If  you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on FB.

 

 

S/V “Let It Be” to RV “Temporary Digs” to S/V HH55 “??”

 

libLIB, Temporary Digs and ???

So things have been just a little bit crazy around here and I thought I better jump ahead in our blog to catch up on where we are and what is happening.

P1010702So many fun times on this great boat!

We expect to close on the sale of LIB this week! (Paperwork complications.) We are both happy and sad about this. We are happy because the new owner, Deneen, will love the boat and create great memories on her. We are happy because we are moving forward with our plans.  But it is very sad to say goodbye to such an excellent boat that has taken good care of us and on which we have learned so much and had so many truly wonderful days.

IMG_5050Deneen and Danny at the helm in Kemah, TX.

We sailed from Belize to Galveston and arrived back in Texas on May 1st.  We hit the ground running and in the space of four weeks we: packed up LIB, shipped boat specific items to California, drove to Mississippi to visit Frank’s mom for Mother’s Day weekend, searched for and bought a used truck and RV,  performed final oil changes and other maintenance on LIB, Frank flew to China to check on the progress of our next boat, I drove to Dallas and back to retrieve from storage a mattress that belongs to LIB, cleaned up LIB, spent a delightful day on the water with Deneen and Danny putting LIB through her paces, moved the remainder of our belonging into “Temporary Digs” and organized it all.  Then we drove away from Galveston on May 27th.  Phew!

Of course our plan is to be back in the sailing life, but our future HH55 is delayed and will not be delivered until November or December. She will be shipped to California for final commissioning and from there we hope to head to the South Pacific.

Since LIB was our home, we had to figure out where to live until our the next boat is completed and delivered.

We had some very generous offers from various friends to stay with them, but we firmly believe the old adage, “Fish and relatives smell after three days.”  Unless, you are flying to an exotic location to visit us on our boat, of course!! Then you need to stay much longer!

So we bought an RV and truck and will spend the next several months exploring the U.S. We are calling our RV “Temporary Digs” since it be where we hang out between stays with friends and family who have invited us to visit.

Our first RV park was in Kemah, TX and was chosen strictly because it was only one mile from where LIB was docked. That RV park was not a great introduction to RV sites because it was way too crowded as this picture shows.

KemahThe tight quarters at USA Resorts Marina Bay RV Park made us question our RV decision!

Since leaving this RV park, things have improved tremendously! Our first stop was at the home of our friends Blaine and Belynda. Though they were away, they generously opened their home to us and allowed us to park in their beautiful yard.  The setting was gorgeous and the accommodations first class.  Icing on the cake was that they let us use their washer and dryer.  What more could we ask for except their company?!

IMG_3710A lush and quiet setting for Temporary Digs.

After only one night we drove to Dallas where we had a reservation at Twin Coves State Park which is only 12 miles from the home we lived in for 20 years! Dallas was a whirlwind of activity as we tried to pack in as much visiting as possible in between routine doctor visits and getting essential land toys i.e. our road bikes, from storage.

IMG_5061 2Twin Coves State Park restored our confidence in our decision to RV. 

We stayed at Twin Coves for four nights before taking off for Amarillo, TX. We wish we could have spent more time there, but the park was very full and could only accept us Monday through Friday morning. We strongly recommend this beautiful, quiet and roomy park.

IMG_5106Hardy and Dawn allowed us to stay at their ranch.

Our friends, Hardy and Dawn, have a beautiful ranch near Amarillo that includes portions of Palo Duro Canyon. Palo Duro Canyon is approximately 120 miles long with an average width of 6 miles and is the second largest canyon in the United States. The setting was unique and interesting and the house was very comfortable. But once again our hosts were not there and had simply allowed us to make ourselves at home. (I’m beginning to wonder if we are scaring away the owners?!)

The views from the ranch were absolutely stunning so I am including several!

hardy's-1First a picture with Frank and Cappy for perspective.

hardy's-4This view is great at midday, think about it at sundown or sunrise?

Hardy'sHow about that flat top and valley?

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 I just had to add one more picture from the ranch.

While staying at the ranch, we caught up on a bit of rest after such a busy May and the hectic schedule we had in Dallas. We did manage to go to Palo Duro Canyon State Park and catch the show “Texas!”

IMG_5098Guns up in Texas – though we are TCU grads, not TX Tech grads.

I don’t think there is another state with as much pride as Texas and this play portrayed that pride in spades!

hardy's-7No photos are allowed during the show, but here is the stage!

If you ever have a chance to take in this show, it is an amazing one with the canyon wall as the backdrop, live animals on stage and a mix of humor, music, integrity and patriotism.  Truly, the staging, costuming and special effects are amazing and first rate!

hardy's-5Intermission during the show in case you forget you are in Texas!

Amarillo was our last Texas stop and now we are in a fabulous RV park in Angel Fire, NM. The park is called the Angel Fire RV Resort and it is very nice. Extremely clean, large drive through pads with enough space between them to be very comfortable.  There are nice amenities including a club house, hot tub, laundry, etc and almost every day there are activities on site if you want to participate.

DSC00874Angel Fire RV Resort is a great stop.

We have spent much of our time exploring and riding bikes. Captain is thrilled to be a trail dog again, though all of us are a bit out of shape so we are trying to be a little cautious as we try to regain lost fitness.

IMG_5139Garcia Park is one section of the Epic bike ride South Boundary Trail

Frank had to convince me to go with him on this trail as I am a chicken but it was beautiful ~ especially in hindsight when I was back at the truck without a fall. 🙂  I hope we get to ride it again.

IMG_5136Dorks on wheels with pretty scenery all around.

When we bought Temporary Digs, I thought the whole fireplace thing was kind of silly so imagine my surprise when we used it our first night in Angel Fire because the temps fell to freezing! WHAT? This is not anything like living in the Caribbean! But change is good and fun.

IMG_5117Captain was perfectly happy to take advantage of the fireplace.

So there you have it. We have begun our new adventure on land and look forward to seeing the beautiful US of A  for the next several months.  We will continue the blog from land until we return to water.  We welcome you to follow along or offer suggestions for our travels.

hardy's-6Amarillo sunset because sunsets are beautiful on land as well as sea.

For a little while we will post about the end of our LIB time in Belize and back to Texas. And, of course, we will keep you up to date with the build and delivery progress of our HH55.

Thank you so much for reading our blog. We love hearing your thoughts so feel free to post a comment. And if you want to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

 

 

Leaving Bonaire. It’s Hard to Say Goodbye.

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Our final sunset on Bonaire.

Well it was hard to leave Bonaire and say so long to the great people we met as well as the beautiful island. We spent our last few weeks taking advantage of the wind for kiting and the fabulous reefs for diving.

We also said goodbye to many people we had the fortune to befriend while visiting. Jerome, Aga, Sebastian and Basi invited us to their home for dinner in their back yard.  Aga made a delicious dinner and we enjoyed it in while watching the sun set beyond their dock as the boys played in the surf.  Thank you all so much for sharing your lives, your local knowledge and your home with us!

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Bonaire shirts and a mug depicting our day of sailing!

We also received this fun memento from the BSSA sailors! Now each morning we are reminded of them as Frank has his coffee. Thank you so much for the shirts and mug but mostly for welcoming us into your group.

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Frank passed a Gatorade to Rudo, that day’s winner.

We loved having the BSSA kids sail by LIB and Frank often tossed them Gatorades. These memories are very special to us! Keep sailing kiddos. We look forward to hearing how you are progressing and we will truly miss seeing you sail or hearing you call to us from the shore!

In addition to leaving shore friends, we had to say so long to many cruisers. Because we were in Bonaire a long time, we made some very dear friends in the cruising community. We can only hope our wakes cross again in the future!

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A huge pod of dolphins!

We left our Bonaire mooring ball for the last time on Sunday morning.  Just past Klein Bonaire, we saw a large pod of dolphins in the distance.  I’m guessing there were nearly 50 dolphins in the pod and we decided to turn a bit in their direction and get a little closer.  Soon part of the pod came to play in front of LIB’s bow!

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How cool is this?!

Perhaps 15 dolphins came to play and were cavorting just in front of us, looking up and smiling as Captain went crazy, barking at them from above.

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I so wish I could jump in and swim with them.

The water was perfectly clear so I could get this picture of two dolphins swimming just below the cross beam of LIB. I, and nearly everyone I know, seem to smile any time dolphins come to play.  Somehow they manage to raise the happiness level of the boat, even when we weren’t unhappy about anything!!

Our plan was to stop at Klein Curacao for three days and two nights and take the opportunity to be away from any city lights or traffic. The day we arrived, our plan looked golden. We knew there were some serious swells north of us but we hoped they wouldn’t arrive for a day or two.

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A wide angle view of Klein Curacao from our mooring spot .

We grabbed a mooring ball and settled in for a quiet day.  Klein Curacao has perhaps two little places to grab a lounge chair and drink. These are visited mostly by the day boat passengers and are fairly crowded until late afternoon.

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Cappy’s friend is left on shore.

Frank paddled into shore with Captain and she managed to make friends with the only dog on the island.  But after romping along the beach and rolling in the sand it was time to come back to LIB.

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Private boats anchored off of Klein Curacao

Since we arrived on Sunday, there were several private boats from Curacao anchored or rafted up and enjoying the day.  But we knew that before dark most of the boats would head back to Curacao and we would be nearly alone.

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By late dusk only a few stragglers remained and they left just a little later.

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The sun looks like it is melting into the ocean.

We watched the sun set from the deck of LIB and loved having a completely quiet evening. Bonaire is fabulous, but the street does have a good deal of motor noise in the evenings. It was a nice change to hear only the water playing across the beach and hear the fish jumping nearby while watching the sun wave goodnight.

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The buildings on Klein Curacao have character.

While this old light house looks kind of charming, I wasn’t sure if it actually functioned, but sure enough, her beacon flashed through the night warning sailors of Klein’s shores.

We planned on scuba diving off of Klein Curacao Monday, but when Frank took Cap to shore that first morning, a group of surfers were unloading their gear.  The arrival of serious surfers did not bode well for the comfort of our anchorage.  Sure enough those northern waves began to roll in around 11 am.  Rather than stay on Klein, we decided to finish our morning chores and head to Curacao and a protected anchorage.

Our decision was a good one as is evidenced by these surfers loving the waves on the north end of Klein Curacao as we motored by.

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The waves were pretty close together.

The waves we saw were a decent size and they were expected to become larger over the next 24-48 hours.

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That boat is partially hidden by the waves.

If our sons had been on board, I am sure we would have stayed on Klein so they could catch a few waves, but Frank and I aren’t surfers, so we think our decision to leave the unprotected shores of Klein Curacao and find a protected anchorage on Curacao was a good one.

~HH55 Update~

So our big news is color!  We have chosen the exterior paint color for our new boat.  HH has kindly put together a rendering of the HH55 with an approximation of the color we have chosen.

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A rendering of our pretty, unnamed, future boat.

I actually think the paint will be a slightly darker blue than this rendering shows. We are pretty excited! It seems like the HH66 owners have chosen bold and unique paint colors and the HH55 owners have chosen very subtle colors.  We decided to go with something in between.  How do you like our color choice?

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We appreciate your time and hope you will drop us a line in the comments.  If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

 

 

Is LIB Stuck? Why Are We STILL in Bonaire?

When we sailed away from Puerto Rico to escape Hurricane Maria in September, we chose the ABC Islands for their location and accessibility from PR.  We did not realize that we would fall a little bit in love with Bonaire. But we have.

And we are not alone.  We have met many cruisers and land lovers who return to Bonaire year after year.  We understand the attraction! Bonaire provides a great location for several activities we love.

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Frank kiting near the mounds of Bonaire salt.

Kiteboarding: the wind is almost always great for kiting. We can launch and take down our kites right on LIB so we don’t have to deal with sand on the kites and us when we finish the day.

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French angel fish and a photo bomb by the Spanish hogfish.

Scuba diving: Bonaire is years ahead in their protection of the reefs and their efforts are apparent in the health of the marine life.  These are the best reefs we have seen during our cruising life.

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A fabulous view while biking.

Biking: there are bike paths on some of the streets here and many people ride bikes. The terrain is varied so you can have different types of bike rides. No, you won’t find downhill biking or epic mountain bike rides, but you can ride off road or on road and have excellent views and get plenty of exercise.

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The string along the sand is a “lane line” for swim practice.

Swimming: the mooring area is crystal clear and an excellent place to take an afternoon swim. Plus we joined the swim practices and three times a week we reel off laps as we watch the ocean bottom for sea life.

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LIB sporting her spinnaker.

Sailing: the wind is generally from the east and we are on the west side of a low lying island which usually means pretty flat seas with generous winds. These conditions make for some very fun sailing!

Education/Giving Back: occasionally there classes about local sea life or island history and we hope these resume soon so we can attend.  Also, once a quarter, the local dive shop puts together a reef clean up day. They provide the tanks and bags and divers volunteer to gather debris from the ocean.  We will definitely participate as soon as we can.

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Volunteers for the parrot count.

Recently we participated in the annual count of the yellow shouldered amazon parrots on Bonaire. Approximately 50 volunteers were assigned observation points around the island and one Saturday morning we all assumed our positions by 5:45 am and counted how many parrots lifted from our designated area and which direction they flew.  This year the estimated count, which is really an estimate to determine if the parrot population is increasing or decreasing, was up from 700 to over 1,000 parrots spotted. Good news for this endangered bird.

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BSSA kids spend the afternoon on LIB.

We have also met several people from the Bonaire Sailing School Associaltion (BSSA).  We invited the kids out to sail with us on LIB and Frank organized a work day where cruisers volunteered and made repairs to the BSSA sailboats.

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Even in the rain, Bonaire is beautiful.

Another plus is that the weather and water are a little warmer in Bonaire than in the Virgin Islands or Bahamas this time of year, which makes water activities way more inviting. Further north, the weather patterns are more unsettled in the first quarter of the year than they are in Bonaire.

Bonaire may be a small island, but it has plenty of activities, excellent grocery stores, tons of restaurants and a variety of shopping available.  Even though we have stopped here longer than anywhere else, we feel like there is much more to explore and learn about Bonaire.

Even so, our time in Bonaire is coming to an end. We have plotted our next move and surprisingly, it will be westward.  We are off to Curacao in a week or two.  We didn’t explore Curacao at all as we traveled between Aruba and Bonaire, so we will take a look around that island for a week or two. By the time we see a little of Curacao, mid-March will have arrived and the weather should allow us to leave the ABCs.  We have a few weeks to determine which direction the wind will take us after Curacao.

~HH Update~

This week at the Miami Boat Show, the first HH55 with an aft helm station, Hai Feng, was on display.  We have chosen to have our HH55 with the aft helm version. From what I have heard, at times there were lines of people waiting to see the Hai Feng at the show.  Though I have not seen her in person, I am sure she is quite fetching! Frank actually was aboard Hai Feng for her sea trial in China a few months back and he was impressed with the boat’s performance. During the sea trial, sails were lifted and lowered several times to make sure all was in order and the Hai Feng was put through her paces.  The highest SOG Frank saw was 18 knots!  Pretty awesome.

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Hai Feng wrapped and ready for shipment!

We are really looking forward to the day our boat will be wrapped and ready for shipment to California!

For those interested in a slightly smaller performance cat, HH has introduced the HH48 and she looks stunning!

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We appreciate your time and hope you will drop us a line in the comments.  If you would like to hear from us more often, please visit our FB page.

Bring on the Dogs! That’s What Everyone Remembers.

Hi guys, it’s me, Captain.  Mom is super lazy so she’s making me do the blog today. NOT!

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Please can I write? I have things to say!

Actually, I begged to write this one because I think mom’s stuff is kinda boring and we need to change it up. Plus when we stop and talk to people they often say, “Oh I remember Captain!” Mom laughs because she says everyone remembers me but not her.  Perhaps she needs to wiggle her tail more?!

So it’s been months and months since I’ve had a chance to tell you what is going on for me.  Since my last blog, we have been to five different countries: Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Aruba and Bonaire.

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Playtime and shade = happiness!

I really liked Turks and Caicos because we stayed mostly at South Side Marina and I was allowed to get off and on the boat anytime I wanted – well almost! And there was another dog that lived there and we played lots and lots.

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Walking at Puerto Bahia, Samana

The Dominican Republic was great because mom took me for a lot of long walks and we found a waterfall that I could play in during our walks.  That waterfall was super special because it didn’t have any salt in it and I could drink the water!  I wish whoever puts the salt in all the oceans would stop because I really want to drink that water!

One surprise was going back to Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico is the place where we first moved onto LIB and it was kinda fun to be back in a familiar place. Dad was riding bikes and mom got to play some tennis. I had long walks and made some new people friends and really liked hanging out at the pool with Frank and MG.

But my people are strange. One afternoon we went to the pool and we were super chill and talking about some hikes we were going to do. Then Frank got on his computer and suddenly everything changed!

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Palmas del Mar before Maria. Taken from the top of the mast the night before we fled.

He and MG started taking about somebody named Maria and weather and category 4 or 5 or something and next thing I knew we are in full pack and go mode! Within 15 hours we had picked up and left Puerto Rico and were sailing to Bonaire.

Later I figured out there was another one of those hurricane things headed toward our marina, so we had to skedaddle.

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LIB moored in Bonaire.

So since September we have been hanging out in the ABC Islands. It’s really pretty here and sooo many people from the cruise ships stop to pet me and tell me how much they miss their dogs.  They should just bring them along! I sure am glad MG and Frank have brought me on our boat.

My boys have come to visit two times since I last wrote! Once was in the Turks and Caicos and then they came to Bonaire for Christmas. Wow wee it is so fun when they are here. Hunter sneaks me treats sometimes (don’t tell!) and Clayton’s ear rubs are so good that I groan with happiness. I just can’t help it!

Mom hasn’t been taking as many pictures of me lately, so I don’t have very many to show, but here are a few I like.

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Few shells makes for great runs! (Turks and Caicos)

Without a doubt, running on soft sand is my favorite thing to do! Especially since there haven’t been any goats to herd in a looooong time. After I run, I cool off in the ocean and make sure my fur is really wet, then I roll around in the sand!

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Feels as good as rolling in grass!

MG thinks I do this just to get messy, but really this is how I scratch all those places I can’t quite reach.  You should try it. I’m sure you would start sand scratching on a regular basis!

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UGH! The rinse cycle before getting in the dinghy.

The one thing I don’t like is that before we go back to the boat, Frank dunks me in the water and washes away as much of the sand as he can. Boy, I just don’t understand why he ruins a good sand scratch like that.

It’s been a long while since we have found creeks and stuff to explore in the dinghy. I really miss zipping along and seeing fish and turtles right next to the dinghy.

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Instead of Swamp People, maybe we could be Dinghy Dervishes? 

We look kinda crazy when we go on these dinghy explorations but we all laugh a lot… even when we get in water so shallow that my people have to get out and walk us to deeper water. (I just stay in the dinghy and make sure they go the right way!)

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I count two in and one getting out….

Over the last few months we have had lots of new friends come out on LIB with us.  One day we had 15 kids from Bonaire out for the afternoon.  Can you say busy?! Phew, that is a lot of kids to keep on the boat.  When we stopped for snacks and a swim, those kids were jumping from all over the boat and I had a hard time keeping count of them all. It was good my humans helped too!

After all the kids were back on board and we were underway again, I went down to mom and dad’s room and took a nap. Hoowee, that was a tiring day. But super fun!  And now almost every time we go to shore for a walk, I see one of the kids or somebody yells my name from a passing car to say hello.

I think I am a pretty good advocate for boat dogs!

Speaking of going to shore, that is the one little thing I’m not so keen about here in Bonaire.  There are a LOT of dogs here and pretty much all of them bark and snarl from behind their fences. It’s a little distracting when I’m on a “business trip.”

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I jump right in when it’s time to go to shore!

Here’s a picture of me and Frank swimming to shore for a walk.  Mom does this too, but she is the one who takes most of the pictures.

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Pretty adorbs, aren’t I?

MG and I participated in a Santa Hat Walk around Christmas.  We got to walk places we had never been and there were lots of other people walking who petted me.  I was the only dog that went on the walk.  Gosh, I’m sure glad my people like to take me with them!  Anyway, I won an award for being cute.  MG says if I were a human I would be really conceited because everyone tells me I’m cute or pretty…. Why does she think I hold my tail so high? Duh!

So that’s pretty much the news around here for now.  Except I know mom and dad are up to something right now because they keep mentioning this boat called an HH55. I took a peak on mom’s computer and I saw some pictures of it.  At first I couldn’t really tell it was a boat, but now it’s coming along.  From what I can tell, they want to use this boat to go exploring even farther away from the U.S.  As long as I get to go with them, I’m down for this whole new boat gig.  Here’s a picture I found on mom’s computer that shows the boat is actually beginning to look like a catamaran now.

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Deck and coachroof bonding completed.

I have two questions about this new boat. 1. Will I still be able to look into the cold drawers? 2. What are we going to name it?  If you have any ideas for a name, please post a comment below, ok?  I bet I would get a lot of extra treats if I manage to come up with a cool new boat name. (Dad kinda wants to keep a song title name, but mom wants something lighthearted relating to exploring or speed. How do you reconcile that?)

Oops, gotta run.  Yesterday I made a new friend, Dave, who likes to paddle board and he said he would take me with him.  Pretty sure I just spotted Dave coming my way!

I hope your day includes some excellent sniffs!

Tail wags and licks,

Captain.

 

 

 

 

BSSA ~ Sailing with the Expert Kids

Bonaire has an active youth sailing group and we invited them to join us on Let It Be for an afternoon of sailing.

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Fifteen kids and two adults from the Bonaire Sailing School Association boarded LIB around 2 pm.  After covering a few guidelines, we released the mooring lines and took off.

BSSA-9 LIB was in the hands of some very good sailors! It only took a few minutes to cover basic differences between the small boats the kids sail and the particulars of this catamaran, then the kids were completely ready to take the sheets, lines and throttles!

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I was truly impressed with how well these sailors worked together and shared responsibilities. As is always true with a group, some children were very interested in sailing and others preferred to romp around the boat.

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BSSA-2Once away from the mooring ball, we raised the main, unfurled the jib and sailed south toward Pink Beach. The auto winch and chart plotter were big hits. But once our sailors learned how to engage and work the autopilot, it was much more interesting to helm manually.

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BSSA-10Any child who wanted the helm had a chance and the more experienced kids stayed right there to guide those who needed a little help.

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BSSA-8After about an hour of sailing, we dropped the sails and grabbed a mooring ball at Pink Beach on the southern side of Bonaire.  We broke out the snacks, lowered the ladder and unleashed the energy. We had already thought these kids were exuberant, but adding the snacks and allowing them to jump from nearly every surface of LIB caused the energy level to increase another watt or ten!

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BSSA-11After a refreshing swim and plenty of sustenance, it was time to pop the chute.  LIB’s spinnaker is slightly larger than the sails the kids are accustomed to and they loved letting her fly.

BSSA-6Our cat cruised down wind quickly and the kids monkeyed around on this smooth point of sail. Very soon it was time to drop the spin and raise the main and jib once again. Second time around for the main/jib and the kids were all over the job with little help.

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I loved watching the kids access the sails, turn to Frank or me and say, “I think that main needs to come in a bit.” Then proceed to make the necessary adjustment. It is easy to see that some of these kids really have caught the sailing bug and they like their sails to be well adjusted.

Several of our sailors have folks who are expert fishermen and that knowledge has been passed along.  We brought out the fishing poles and the kids worked the lines hard, but alas, we were not in prime fishing spots.  Catching a fish would have been icing on a sweet day, but I’m not sure we needed the additional activity anyway!

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Our awesome helmsmen and sheet handlers managed to sail around Klein Bonaire and, with only one tack, they sailed LIB on a perfect line to catch our mooring ball.

BSSAWe absolutely loved having a chance to share LIB with the BSSA and having the opportunity to get to know these young people. I was incredibly impressed with so much about these kids; they were polite, they were appreciative, they were avid about learning and passionate about sailing, they cared for and watch out for one another, the older ones gently reined in the younger ones if things became unsafe or too wild, they worked well as a team, they were engaging and just plain fun! I could go on and on!

LIB has never housed as much energy as she did for those few hours with the BSSA kids on board and we loved every minute of it.  (I would love to hear how other boaters have reached out to get to know the communities they visit. Please tell us in the comments.)

Thank you to the kids who participated and to Anneke and Thijs who took their afternoon to chaperone.

To the parents of this very fun group of sailors, we appreciate your trusting us with your precious children and allowing us to get to know them!

A special thank you to Anneke who took so many great pictures and videos while Frank and I were busy. We are so glad to have these photos!  Also, thank you to Charles of Tusen Takk II for the group photo.

~HH55~

The construction of our new catamaran is moving along nicely and we continue to spend a lot of time working with the staff at HH to refine and define our future boat. It has been super fun to receive updates and a few photos from the builder showing us the progress of our boat.

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She was just the bare hull when we visited in China.

Since our first visit in August, Frank has returned once to China and was able to be on board for the sea trial of an HH55 with the aft steering.  That sea trial further solidified our choice for an aft helm arrangement.

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Vacuum infusion of the bulkheads. (Exciting, I know)

While touring the factory, we were able to see vacuum infusion in process for another boat.  Per the HH brochure, “the hull, deck and structure are all 100% carbon fiber composite foam sandwich and use post cured epoxy resin for super light, super strong structures.”  It is fun to see this processing happening for our own cat.

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Those partitions may be confusing to you, but to us they look like our future home.

She doesn’t look like a boat yet, but there is definitely progress being made. We worked with HH and Morrelli and Melvin to arrange the salon and galley to meet our needs and it is fun to see the one dimensional lines and boxes on paper become a reality.

Since this boat is being built in China we obviously can’t just drop by to see how things are going, so we really appreciate the progress reports generated by HH.

Thanks so much for visiting our blog.  We love hearing from our readers. If you would like to see what we are up to more often, please visit our FB page.

 

ARUBA! An Easy Place to While Away Time.

Wow, sorry for the lack of blog posts.  I would say it’s been super busy here, but that is a relative term.  We have been busy, but a lot of what we have been doing is researching things for the new boat.  (Skip to the bottom for that news.)

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Our view when anchored off Nikki Beach.

Aruba is a beautiful island with a population of a little ever 100,000 as of 2016.  The locals are extremely nice and cheerful, so we feel very welcome here.  However, the focus is certainly on the tourists who arrive via cruise ship or plane and we little cruisers are sort of an afterthought.  Which is understandable when you consider that just yesterday there were four cruise ships in port which is probably about 20,000 visitors!

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In this picture I captured 3 cruise ships and an airplane!

Checking into Aruba by private boat is a bit of an adventure. Boaters must tie up to the large commercial dock which is not well situated for a small boat.  When we arrived, the wind was beating us up against the concrete wall and the only protection besides our boat bumpers were old tires.  Let It Be came away with a lot of black tire marks on the side and we were tense the whole time we were at the commercial dock, but thankfully we didn’t have any other damage.

All of the paperwork was completed at the dock and immigration and customs came to us; but it took a while!

There are pretty much only two marinas available here and currently they are very full with boats from Puerto Rico that ran from Hurricane Maria and boaters who have escaped Venezuela.

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The Renaissance Marina.

We stayed in the Renaissance Marina for a few days before our trip to the U.S. and it is a nice place to stay. The marina is right across from all of the action of town and there are two hotels associated with the marina where we were welcome to swim and use the restrooms.

Since returning from the U.S., we have been anchored off Nikki Beach which is right next to the airport.  This is not a calm and quiet anchorage, so don’t expect flat water.  But the beach is nice and it is easy to pull the dinghy up on shore.  We have enjoyed taking Captain for walks twice a day on the beach and we have been swimming or SUPing most afternoons to get some exercise.

There are other beaches along the west coast of Aruba that are even prettier than Nikki Beach, but they are not well protected either.

We have rented a car a few times and explored most of the island by car.

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How many animals could survive here?

Driving around Aruba, the east coast is rugged and dry. Although years ago, there were supposedly a variety of grazing areas for cows, goats and other animals, we didn’t see any areas that looked capable of supporting cattle; and we are here during the rainy season.

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The east coast water was pretty but rough.

We are still considering moving up to Palm Beach on the northwest shore of Aruba so we can dive some of the shipwrecks, but much depends on the winds.

Aruba’s two largest visitor populations are from the cruise ships and repeat time share owners.  Both visitors seem to really enjoy their time here and many of the people I’ve spoken with make Aruba a multiple repeat vacation destination.

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Prada? Cartier? Ralph Lauren? Gucci?

I think Aruba is so popular because it is an easy place to get to and there are many familiar amenities that make it perfect for those who like a taste of home when they travel.  You will find most recognizable restaurant chains here and every upscale designer seems to have a store front.

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A “ying/yang” lounge chair?! Suits us pretty well.

We have certainly taken advantage of several of the restaurants and enjoyed many delicious meals here in Aruba. We have enjoyed access (by car) to very well stocked grocery stores. We have loved swimming nearly every day.

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Dinner at Elements was one of the best meals we had in Aruba!

We have also enjoyed spending time with our friends Shelly and Greg of s/v Semper Fi, who also sailed away from Puerto Rico just before Hurricane Maria.  Greg and Shelly have spent a lot of time on Aruba and they have been really helpful in learning what Aruba has to offer.

One other thing we appreciate about Aruba is that we were able to have the bottom of LIB cleaned and repainted.  LIB was on the hard for three weeks while we were traveling in the U.S. and we are very pleased with the work performed at Varadero Aruba Marina and Boatyard. Once again LIB is clean, painted and ready to sail.

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It has been pretty interesting to watch the constant coming and going of the cruise ships at all times of day and night.  More than once we have awakened to Captain barking at night and when we look outside, there is yet another ship leaving with all lights blazing.

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The picture is poor, but you can see how amazingly bright these ships are at night!

If I have to summarize my thoughts about Aruba, it is a bit like living at anchor in a small city.  If you are a city person at heart who is living on a boat, Aruba might be the perfect place for you!  Frank and I are both looking forward to getting back to a little quieter anchorage if we can find one.  Next week the wind is forecast to lighten up so we will probably leave here and sail back toward Curacao and Bonaire.

~HH55~

One upside to the HH55 is that there are many ways to customize the boat, everything from choosing aft or interior helm stations to designing the cabinets in the galley and hulls.

It is really fun to have these options but it takes a good deal of thought, planning and research.  Unfortunately when we have s-l-o-w internet, research is very time consuming.  But we are plowing along and making decisions.

The folks at HH have been very responsive to our questions and they are working hard to help us build the boat we think will work best for us when we circumnavigate.  Also, Gino Morrelli has been amazingly helpful with the details of the boat and with catching things in the renderings that we need to consider.

The very first decision we had to make was which helm station configuration we wanted: the interior, center helm station or dual, outdoor, aft helm stations.

The interior helm is a very cool feature and we thought it would be really nice to sit inside during passages and helm from indoors. Whomever is at the helm would remain part of the activities indoors and would not be isolated at an outdoor helm station. We have some concern that during ocean crossings, water could come through the trampoline and swamp the pit by the mast where lines are adjusted in the interior helm configuration.  Plus the interior helm is a great way to reduce sun exposure and help prevent skin cancer.

The outdoor helm configuration is familiar and comfortable. With dual helm stations, docking would be easier because you could be in the helm station closest to the dock so you can see easily.   Removing the helm from the salon would allow for another sitting area indoors and make the salon more open physically and visually.

HH55+04

Image from HH55 layout page.

Both configurations have positive features, but for us, the dual, aft helm is our choice. When sailing LIB, Frank and I love to sit at the helm together and watch the world go by, so we have a hard time imagining ourselves sitting inside the salon as we sail.

HH and Gino Morrelli are working with us to make sure the outdoor helm station seats are comfortable and will accommodate both of us as we sail. Perfect – for us anyway.

So there you have it. Our HH55 will be the dual, aft helm stations. FYI, this was not a difficult decision. I think most people know instinctively which would be better for their preferences.

Thanks for reading our blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  If you want to see what we are up to more often, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44.

 

Ch~Ch~Ch~Changes! New Plans. New Digs.

If you were reading closely, you may have noticed a soft mention of a recent trip to China in one of our blog posts. And if you saw me with my kiddos, you would have noticed that Frank wasn’t with us because he was once again in China. And if you had followed us around the Annapolis Boat Show, you might have noticed that we spent a lot of time on one particular sailboat.

And IF you put all of that together, you might have guessed that we have decided to buy a new boat!    W H A T ? ? ? ?

Yep, it’s true.

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She doesn’t look like much ~ yet!

Here is the skinny.  We love our Helia and think that LIB is a well built, comfortable sailboat.  We have put a lot of work into her to make her function perfectly for us and make sure she is reliable, capable and prepared for long passage making.

So why would we change boats?  The truth is that we want a boat that is faster than LIB.  We have been discussing the idea of circumnavigation and I am in favor of having a sailboat that can make long passages shorter.  I like the idea of being “out there” less time and being anchored and exploring longer.

LIB is absolutely blue-water ready and very capable for circumnavigating. But honestly, we have been looking for a boat that can sail upwind, can sail faster and sails well in light winds.  We love to sail and we want a sailboat that can comfortably tick off 230 miles per day with a crew of 2.

After months of discussion, we had narrowed our focus to three boats; the Outremer 5X, the Balance 526 and the HH55.  Because we did not have an opportunity to sail any of those boats, our research stalled until May of this year.  Apparently in May all of the stars aligned just perfectly because in the space of two weeks we had the chance to sea trial and carefully evaluate all three of these boats.

The Outremer, the Balance and the HH each have some excellent features, are solid boats and are performance oriented.  But after reviewing our options and sailing goals, and after sailing all three boats, Frank and I were hooked on the HH55. Full carbon construction, cutting edge hull, daggerboard and rig design as well as full customization options are just some of the many features that set the HH apart from other performance catamarans.

We spent a lot of time working with Gino Morrelli,  renowned naval architect of Morrelli and Melvin, and with Mark Womble, broker extraordinaire, discussing the HH55 and what we wanted in a new boat.  We had conversations and e-mails with Paul Hakes of Hudson Hakes Yacht Group talking about our interests and questions.

In August we flew to China, visited the HH factory, created a preliminary interior layout, then pulled the trigger.  We signed a contract and officially placed our order for an HH-55!

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Frank and Paul make it official!

Frank and I recognize that sailing the HH will certainly be more complicated than sailing our Helia, but we have always enjoyed challenging ourselves mentally and physically, and we believe this boat will further our sailing experience and knowledge.

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Minnehaha, HH55-01! (Photo courtesy of HH Catamarans)

The HH55 has been designed with performance and comfort in mind and we believe this sailboat fulfills both of these roles very well. Our plan is to take delivery in Long Beach, CA, spend six to 12 months getting to know our new boat and making sure all of the systems work well, then set off for our circumnavigation.

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HH55-01 sports an inside helm station.

As with all changes, there is great excitement and a pretty large dose of nervousness.  We have absolutely loved Let It Be and she has been a sturdy and steady vessel.  It will be very hard (read sad) to let her go, so we hope to find buyers who will love her and care for her as well as we have.  Let It Be has brought us much joy and I’m sure whoever owns her next will create equally wonderful memories!

So there you have it; we are making some changes, expanding our experience and looking forward to the delivery of our HH55 sailboat.

Thank you so much for reading our blog. We love to hear from our readers, so feel free to make comments. And if you want to hear from us more often, check out our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44.

 

 

 

 

 

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